Herbal How To: Decanting a Tincture

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I have a cold. It seems like everyone around me does. I’m not really that sick, but it is quite annoying what with my head all stuffed up and my strength waning afterr getting up to make myself tea.

So, I reached for my echinacea tincture to find both bottles empty. (Who is so irresponsible to put back empty bottles into the first aid kit.…Probably me….)

Luckily, I’ve got a laboratory in my garage chock full of good stuff. A quick pop in and a moment to decant, and I’m back in business taking my echinacea every 1/2 hour. Feeling better already!

 

Pyramid of Healing

Topical salves or ointments are some of the best herbal remedies in my herbal arsenal.

They are easy to use, non-invasive and really healing, powerful and effective. The comforting aspect of a balm or salve aids in the healing process and is a great introductory herbal remedy for the more skeptical client (or family member).

Every Herbal First Aid Kit should have at least a few salves. Pictured are some of my most highly recommended:

Healing Herbal Salve: All-around superstar healing salve for any wound. (St John’s Wort, calendula, comfrey, plantain)

Fungi Foe Salve: Great anti-fungal and antibacterial salve gentle enough for all your intimate bits. (Oregano, calendula)

Knit Together Salve: Excellent healer for internal injuries such as sprains, broken bones and muscle tears. (comfrey)

Bye Bye Bruise Salve: Perfect to heal and possibly prevent bruising. This one is amazing to watch work! The sooner you get it on the bump, the more effective it is. (arnica)

Calendula Salve: An excellent skin healer, wound healer, scar repairer and overall comforting, healing salve. (calendula)

Clear Chest Salve: A powerhouse for helping to clear up respiratory distress and infection. A must have for cold and flu season. (white horehound, thyme, sage)

Thyme Salve: Particularly useful when dealing with infection of any kind. (thyme)

 

 

Photo credit: Zeinep Yessenbekova

Beauty Tip: Under Eye Dark Circles

A friend of mine asked me to help her with an herbal remedy for her under eye dark circles.

This was a new request and I was excited to dig into some research in order to help my friend.

I read up on ways to help with dark circles and almost all of my resources had similar thoughts on the subject.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Fatigue is the most common cause of dark circles under your eyes. Sometimes, what appear to be dark circles under your eyes may merely be shadows cast by puffy eyelids or hollows under your eyes that develop as a normal part of aging.

Some of the most common causes of true under-eye circles are:

  1. Allergies
  2. Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
  3. Contact dermatitis
  4. Fatigue
  5. Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  6. Heredity
  7. Pigmentation irregularities, which can be a particular concern for people of African or Asian ancestry
  8. Rubbing or scratching your eyes
  9. Sun exposure, which prompts your body to produce more melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color
  10. Thinning skin and loss of fat and collagen that comes with aging, which can make the reddish-blue blood vessels under your eyes more obvious”

She is up for some trial and error, so we began with a turmeric and almond oil paste. She applies it at night and leaves it on for 30 minutes before washing it off. In the morning, there are still traces of the unique turmeric yellow stain, but this easily vanishes during her shower.

My friend has seen marked improvement with this method after two weeks.

What was amazing, is that nothing fancy is needed:

Under Eye Eraser

  • Turmeric powder
  • Cold-pressed Almond oil

Slowly add almond oil to turmeric powder until you achieve a thick paste consistency.

Store sealed in the fridge.

Apply to a thick coat to the skin under the eyes.

Leave for at least a half an hour.

Be careful to spot test a place on your skin. Fair-skinned people may experience staining of the skin.

Safety Note: Dr. Mark Jacquot, clinical director at LensCrafters, recently explained that ‘the skin around your eyes is particularly sensitive and can be prone to allergic reactions, irritation, or other injuries’.  So please test the area first before continuing.

Medicinal Actions

Turmeric: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, skin protectant, increases circulation,

Almond oil: high in vitamin A, anti-oxidant, easily absorbed into the skin, aids in regenerating skin cells and decreasing inflammation.

 

 

 

Herbal How To: Making an Herbal Salve

 

Herbal How To: Making an Herbal Salve

Fungi Foe (anti-fungal salve)

You will need: oregano and calendula oils; beeswax; tea tree, lavender and red thyme essential oils; jars
1. Strain and measure out the oils
2. Heat oils in a double boiler
3. Add the beeswax
4. Stir until completely melted
5. Take off the heat and add the essential oils
6. Pour into containers
7. Label and allow to cool


This is a great remedy for any fungal or yeast infections, gentle enough for all your intimate bits


Lovely Liver Herbal Extract

Spring is upon us and with it comes spring cleaning (I washed my windows yesterday-goodbye little kitty paw prints!), getting the garden ready for spring planting and sorting out all of our clogged systems within the body after the winter’s cold and gray days.

With the sunny and warmer days of spring, we are opened up and stimulated to move and clear out the accumulated rubbish, in the garden, in our closets and in ourselves.

Part of a spring detox is healthy, lighter fare in our diet; more fresh fruits and veggies. We take our Detox Tea and this Lovely Liver Herbal Extract. The herbs within, especially burdock root,  stimulate the liver to function to its fullest, cleansing the body of accumulated toxins.

According to The Practical Herbalist:

“Ancient herbalists, like Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century, recognized burdock’s power in helping their patients recover from illness. Then, like today, burdock helped with the break-down of toxins and metabolic waste, making it easier for our bodies to eliminate that which we no longer need. Conditions ranging from cancers and hypertension to gout, digestive ulcers, and reproductive problems, burdock has offered support and help in recovery through the ages.”

I have prescribed this tincture for more intense ailments, from eczema to rheumatoid arthritis to severe acne. When our immune system is struggling, when we are fatigued, when we have eruptions or flareups of chronic issues, a good place to start is with liver support. When things build up (even stress), the liver needs help to do its job excellently.

Lovely Liver Herbal Extract

  • 2 parts Burdock root (dried or fresh) (80% alcohol)
  • 2 parts Dandelion root (dried or fresh) (80% alcohol)
  • 1 part Milk Thistle seed (80% alcohol)
  • 2 parts Chicory root (dried or fresh) (80% alcohol)
  • 1 part Yellow Dock root (dried or fresh) (80% alcohol)
  • Alcohol (at least 42% for leaves, flowers and stems, brandy, vodka; 80% for roots and barks, Everclear)
  • Sterilised jar and lid

Grind or chop the plant material as finely as possible. I use my juicer to grind the dried plant material and my grain mill to grind the dried roots.

Add the plant material to the jar: Dried- fill 1/2 of jar

                                                            Fresh- fill the entire jar

Add the alcohol. Fill to the brim. Keep an eye on it for the next several minutes and keep adding alcohol until all the plant material is covered.

Seal well and label with the plant name, date, percent and type of alcohol and the date 6 weeks out.

Shake the jar daily and store in a cool, dark place.

After 6 weeks, strain out plant material and decant the tincture into sterilised bottles for use.

Label bottles with the tincture name.

Adult dose: 3-5ml 2x day as part of a liver detox

Medicinal actions:

Burdock root (Arctium lappa): antibacterial, anti-inflammation, anti-tumor, anti-fungal, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antipyretic, diuretic, diaphoretic, hypoglycemic

Dandelion root (Taraxacum): diuretic, liver tonic, digestive tonic, antirheumatic, mild laxative, promotes bile flow

Milk thistle seed (Silybum marianum): cholagogic, tonic, galactogogue, alterative

Chicory root (Cichorium intybus): tonic, laxative and diuretic, promotes bile flow

Yellow dock root (Rumex crispus: laxative, alternative, mildly tonic

 

An Herbalist’s Toolbox: a good knife

I made it home to America (specifically, New Mexico) for Christmas with my family. It had been eleven years since we had celebrated Christmas together. My daughters and I came prepared with Christmas gifts in tow, ready to wrap and put under the tree.

We hadn’t seen our family in six years. A lot changes in that amount of time and it wasn’t easy picking out gifts. Luckily, some of my family had given me a list of items they would enjoy. I am not one to make a list for gifts (if you’re reading this, mum, a lot has changed since I was ten). My sister told me that she had absolutely no idea what to get for me. But when I opened her gifts to me, each one was better than the last. She rocked it!

One of the gifts she gave me was this beautiful knife. Every herbalist needs a good knife…one that can cut up roots. This baby does the trick really well. It is beautiful and strong and feels good in the hand even after a basket full of burdock root.

A special thanks to my sister, Misha, for being such a generous and creative gift giver and adding to my Herbalist’s Toolbox.

From the Flotsam and Fork website:

“These carbon steel and boxwood kitchen knives are made by hand in a workshop in Solsona, Spain, near Barcelona, where the Pallarès family has been making knives and blades since 1917.

The carbon steel blade is lightweight, and will hold it’s edge longer than a typical stainless-steel blade. It will develop a lovely patina with use.

Care: Keep the blade dry to prevent rust from forming on the blade. Wipe with a soft cloth after hand washing.”

Herbal How To: Chamomile-Infused Almond Oil

How to make Chamomile Infused Almond Oil:

1. You need chamomile flowers, a jar and some freshly pressed almond oil (this oil comes from my friend Alex in Ukraine)
2. Grind the flowers up (I used my juicer)
3. Fill the jar up halfway with plant material
4. Add the almond oil, filling the jar
5. Shake it
6. Label it
7. Let sit on a sunny windowsill for 6 weeks, shake it often
I use this oil in my Chamomile Face Cream.